All night filibuster in Senate yields top AIM legal reform priority: punitive damage reform!
FEBRUARY 26, 2020 - The Missouri Senate debated SB 575, sponsored by Sen. Bill Eigel, from early afternoon on Tuesday through midday Wednesday. Democrats filibustered the AIM -supported bill which would help victims of asbestos exposure get compensation quicker by requiring them to file claims against asbestos trust funds before bringing other lawsuits alleging asbestos exposure. Such claims are usually paid very quickly.
Plaintiffs' attorneys currently pursue lengthy lawsuits first, then file asbestos trust fund claims. This would reverse the order. While patients would receive some compensation much quicker under the bill, attorneys fought against the bill. After about 20 hours of floor debate, the bill was laid over.
BUT THE TIME WAS NOT WASTED. While senators filibustered the asbestos bill, negotiations were underway by key senators, the Missouri Civil Justice Reform Coalition, led by Rich Aubuchon, a team of business lobbyists including AIM president/CEO Ray McCarty, and plaintiffs' attorneys on a bill to address punitive damages reform and Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) reform. The bill was perfected on Wednesday.
That bill, SS#2 SCS SB 591, sponsored by Sen. Bill White, is supported by Associated Industries of Missouri and many other businesses and business advocacy groups. Senator Tony Leutkemeyer, Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz and Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden were instrumental in passing the bill, along with extremely hard work and long hours by Senator Bill White. The bill would ensure punitive damages are not a regular discussion in cases and they would be reserved for cases in which the defendant supports the bill. CLICK HERE FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE BILL. CLICK HERE FOR THE LANGUAGE OF THE BILL.
"Hats off to the hard working Senators and their staff," said Ray McCarty. "This was a grueling victory for legal fairness in Missouri. We must have one final vote and then move the bill to the House and to the Governor."
NOTE: At press time, the summary appearing on the Senate website reflects an older version of the bill. The new version of the bill is linked HERE.